September 28, 2023

Tennessee post-divorce alimony assortment matter.

Pamela Patteson v. Christopher Patteson

Ex-Husband’s Responsibility to Pay Mortgage Continues Regardless of Spouse’s Remarriage

The husband and spouse on this Shelby County, Tennessee, had been married in 1992 and separated in 2017.  The entered right into a marital dissolution settlement (MDA) which known as for the husband to pay the spouse $1800 monthly till the mortgage was paid in full.  It additional offered that if the spouse offered the property, he would proceed to pay $1800 monthly till the payoff quantity was paid in full.

The spouse later filed a petition for civil contempt, stating that the husband had didn’t comply.

The MDA didn’t specify what sort of alimony the fee was.  The husband argued that earlier than the query of contempt might be addressed, the alimony needed to be first categorised.  He argued that it must be categorised as alimony in futuro, because the whole quantity was not ascertainable on the time of award.  And because the spouse had remarried, the alimony obligation was terminated.

The trial courtroom disagreed, and held that the alimony was alimony in solido, which doesn’t terminate upon remarriage.  The husband had relied upon his lawyer’s recommendation in not paying, and for that purpose, his conduct was held to be not willful.  However he was ordered to pay an arrearage of over $64,000, plus lawyer’s charges of over $34,000.  The husband then appealed to the Tennessee Courtroom of Appeals.

The appeals courtroom cited a 1999 Tennessee Supreme Court case which holds that if an alimony award incorporates contingencies that will have an effect on the quantity, then it’s alimony in futuro.  However the courtroom agreed with the decrease courtroom that this rule didn’t apply.  After analyzing the MDA, it concluded that the quantity was particular and ascertainable, though there was a contingency as as to whether it could be paid in installments or a lump sum.  Because of this, it affirmed the decrease courtroom’s ruling: For the reason that alimony was correctly characterised as being alimony in solido, it didn’t terminate upon the spouse’s remarriage.

The appeals courtroom additionally affirmed the award of lawyer’s charges at trial.  And because the MDA offered for lawyer’s charges, it additionally awarded her charges for the attraction.  It remanded the case to the decrease courtroom to find out the quantity.

No. W2022-01187-COA-R3-CV (Tenn. Ct. App. Apr. 18, 2023).

See unique opinion for actual language.  Authorized citations omitted.

To study extra, see Alimony Regulation in Tennessee, and our video, How is alimony determined in Tennessee?